Striking at the Opportunity

It looked like the Packers might let another opportunity pass them by today in San Diego, but Brett Favre led the Pack to a fourth quarter rally to top the Chargers, 38-21. This playoff race is now officially RED HOT. Todd Korth brings us the details...

Finally, the Green Bay Packers have caught the reeling Minnesota Vikings, but it didn't look like that would be the case early in the fourth quarter.

The Packers, after giving up 18 unanswered points to the revved-up San Diego Chargers, reeled off 21 straight points behind Brett Favre and went on to a 38-21 victory Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The win put the Packers (8-6) in a tie for first place in the NFC North Division with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings, however, hold the edge based on the fourth tiebreaker, conference records. Minnesota is 7-4 and the Packers are 7-5.

Green Bay won for the fifth time in its last seven games while the Vikings lost for the eighth time in their last 10 games. The Packers finish the regular season with a Monday Night Football Game at Oakland on Dec. 22 and at home against Denver on Dec. 28. The Vikings, who fell to the Chicago Bears Sunday, host Kansas City this Saturday, then finish at Arizona.

The Packers' vaunted rushing attack struggled for the third straight game, but Favre bailed the team out, like he has done so many times in his Hall of Fame career. Favre threw four touchdown passes for the first time since 1999, including three straight touchdown passes down the stretch to put the game away.

Favre completed 23 of 33 passes for 278 yards, including touchdown passes of 40 and 41 yards to wide receiver Robert Ferguson sandwiched around a 1-yard scoring toss to Ahman Green in the fourth quarter. Favre finished with a quarterback rating of 122.2, his second-best rating of the season.

Wide receiver Donald Driver led the Packers with eight catches for 112 yards, the first Packers receiver to have a 100-plus-yard receiving day in 18 games.

San Diego dominated in the third quarter. The Chargers had the ball for 13 minutes, 32 seconds and closed to 17-14 on the first play of the fourth quarter on quarterback Drew Brees' seven-yard touchdown pass to LaDainian Tomlinson, who stung the Packers throughout the game. Brees' two-point conversion pass to David Boston suddenly closed the Packers to within three points.

Tomlinson, who caught 11 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns, gave San Diego (3-11) a 21-17 lead by catching a pass near midfield from Brees and sprinting 68 yards for a touchdown with 12:10 left in the game.

But the Packers were sparked on the ensuing kickoff by Najeh Davenport's 45-yard return to the Chargers' 43. Two plays later, Favre took advantage of the Chargers' inexperienced secondary by finding Ferguson over the middle for a touchdown as the Packers regained the lead, 24-21.

Defensive tackle Grady Jackson forced the Chargers to turn the ball over for the fourth time in the game by sacking Brees and forcing a fumble. Linebacker Hannibal Navies recovered the ball at the 1, and Favre followed with a touch pass to Green in the right side of the end zone.

The Packers finished off the Chargers with a six-play, 70-yard drive, highlighted by Favre's precision pass to Ferguson, who caught the ball and scored with defenders draped all over him.

The first half was slowed by 14 penalties, seven on each team. But blitzing safety Darren Sharper intercepted his fourth pass of the season at point-blank range to snuff a San Diego drive with less than 2 minutes. Favre then dissected the Chargers youthful secondary, moving Green Bay 69 yards in less than a minute, and the Packers took a 17-3 halftime lead on Favre's seven-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Donald Driver.

Driver, who has struggled in the second half of the season, caught an 18-yard pass from Favre that moved the Packers to the Chargers' 44. Favre followed with an 18-yard completion to Javon Walker. Two plays later, running back Tony Fisher took a short pass 19 yards to the Chargers' 7. As Walker drew double coverage in the middle of the end zone, Favre found Driver all alone on the left side for a touchdown, setting a team-record with a scoring pass in 23 straight games.

Green Bay's defense held Tomlinson, one of the top rushers in the AFC, to just 50 yards rushing for the game on 20 carries.

The Packers used the first four minutes of the game, driving 60 yards to take a quick 7-0 lead. Driver, who entered the game with just 14 catches since the bye week, caught two third-down passes from Favre, including a 23-yard catch to the Chargers' 13. Green followed with a nine-yard run to the 4 that helped him break Jim Taylor's 41-year-old single-season rushing record.

San Diego bounced back, taking advantage of three straight penalties against the Packers for a total of 28 yards as the Chargers moved to the Packers' 6. But Green Bay's defense held Tomlinson to a total of three yards on two straight runs and safety Marques Anderson knocked a scrambling Drew Brees out of bounds at the 2, and the Chargers settled for Steve Christie's 20-yard field goal.

Inactives: The following Packers did not suit on the the 45-man game day roster: Derek Combs, Brennan Curtin, Kenny Peterson, Jamal Reynolds, Marcus Spriggs, Erwin Swiney, Marcus Wilkins. Craig Nall was the designated third quarterback.

Extra points: Favre has thrown a touchdown pass in 23 consecutive games, breaking Cecil Isbell's team record of 22 straight games with a touchdown pass. Favre was intercepted for the 11th time this season on third down in the third quarter by San Diego's Stephen Cooper, the most interceptions on third down in the NFL. ... The Packers have won seven of their last eight meetings against the Chargers.

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